I got four angry strides away before Harry changed the course of my life with six easy words. “Can you hear the river crying?” Lainie, Ch. 8
From Back Cover Description: ‘In the heart of the Wimmera region of Victoria, an ancient gateway to Eden is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands – at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school.
When a mining company begins exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learnt more about her Indigenous heritage.
What she’s told by their farmhand, Harry – an Aboriginal Elder – can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insanely toward her than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.’
‘Your mother’s grave is a lie.’ Harry to Lainie.
Synopsis: Lainie’s days are filled with study, repairing fences, ‘pulling stubborn lambs out of angry ewes’, and contemplating a future beyond this one-grain-silo town.
When the two important adults in her life, Aunt Lily and Harry, try to tell her that the mother she never knew is actually alive in some ‘Eden’, she reacts with anger. Though not clued up on the Book of Genesis, Lainie is sure the original Garden was not in the Great Southern Land (Australia). Besides, her mother lies buried. Harry, though, disappears. This is the catalyst for Lainie to seek out her roots.
This unusual adventure, aimed at Young Adults, is so thoughtful it deserves a wide readership. It mixes a coming-of-age tale and romance with ancient memories, religious motifs and mythologies.
The slow burn narrative begins in a nowheresville ‘where the creeks are named after dead animals’. Carolyn Denman builds the details of school life, farm work and hikes through the fire-prone bush until the fantastical elements seem to arise quite plausibly from this backdrop .
I see it as an engrossing story of protecting the one Eden we all have now, our Earth. Lainie and her friends, Bane, Noah and Tessa, represent our only hope – young people. Earth’s enemies are symbolised by the mining giant Kolsom. But there is more going on than the struggle between these Sentinels of a special place and Kolsom’s devious agents. Something seems to be going badly wrong with the nature of Eden itself.
Don’t be fooled by the early steady pace; the acceleration toward the utterly unforeseeable events took me by surprise. You are bound to want to know what on earth – and Eden – is going to happen next. Fortunately, the sequels are now available too.
I smiled at him, winked, then stepped across the boundary into Paradise.
Note on song lines: To Indigenous Australians, a songline, or dreaming track, is one of the paths across the land or sky which mark the route followed by creator-beings. These made the earth and everything in it. This early time is called the Dreamtime or the Dreaming. Carolyn Denman says in the foreword, ‘My desire is that this tale reflects the co-existance and interconnectedness of belief systems.’
A word on the dialogue: Some of the lively terms sprinkling the novel might be new and fun to readers beyond Australia: you will hear of colours, for instance, ‘as bright as a tradies wardrobe’, and of dorks, drongos, fairy bread, even a mention of the legendary drop bears*.
Songlines: The Sentinels of Eden and the sequels Sanguine and Sympath are published by Odyssey Books. You can read more about them at Carolyn Denman’s website.
Where to find them: through BookDepository, and Amazon, and AbeBooks.
*What’s a drop bear? Not telling.
You are at Baffled Bear Books. Here writes Mark, guardian of Mawson Bear.
Mawson is a Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. He is the writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In. Mawson has many qualitites but he is not a drop bear.